It’s Here!!!

31 03 2011

Today the Reds defend a division title for the 3rd time in my life.  My wife and I took the afternoon off work:

  • 55-inch TV, MLB Extra innings package (to watch the Reds and other games from Jersey) – CHECK
  • 6-pack of Brooklyn Pennant Ale – CHECK
  • Grill, Cheddarwurst and kraut – CHECK
  • Gold Star Chili (dip mid-afternoon) – CHECK
  • Nachos ingredients (dinner) – CHECK
  • Reds NL Central Champs t-shirt – CHECK
  • Box of 1990 Topps (man, my least favorite set – but it’s where I’m at in the project) – CHECK
Glad to see the Tigers are wearing a patch for Sparky.  You’d think the team bearing his Hall of Fame cap would do something.
Let the season of eternal hope begin!




1988 Cincinnati Reds season

29 03 2011

The Reds finished in 2nd place for the 4th consecutive year under manager Pete Rose. This season may have shown the most promise as the team won 87 games, though the Reds started off slow.  Going into the All-Star break, they had a losing record – 42-45 positioned them in 4th place and 7.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.

Rose wasn’t at the helm for an entire month after he shoved umpire David Pallone during an April 30th game against the Mets.  After a frenzy in Riverfront Stadium causing a delay of the game and harsh comments toward Pallone by Reds announcers Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall, Rose was suspended 30 games by then-NL President Bart Giamatti.  This is still the largest suspension of a manager ever for an on-field incident.

In 1988, Cincinnati took center stage over All-Star weekend, as Riverfront Stadium hosted the Mid-summer classic.  Yours truly attended that game with my dad, and we used to watch the VHS tape of it over and over again.  The Reds had 3 representative in the All-Star game.  Rookie third baseman Chris Sabo, aka “Spuds”, played as a reserve, as did his infield mate and former University of Michigan teammate Barry Larkin.  Danny Jackson was also named as a reserve, but didn’t pitch.  Riverfront didn’t get to host the Home Run Derby – that was canceled due to rain.  However, the game itself was a well-played, 2-1 pitching duel in which starting AL catcher Terry Steinbach was the game’s MVP. Steinbach accounted for both AL runs, with a sac fly and a homer that that bounced off the top of the wall and just past Darryl Strawberry’s glove.

In previous years, the team had an offense of young developing stars (Eric Davis, Kal Daniels) augmented with a few veteran former All-Stars (Dave Parker, Buddy Bell, Bo Diaz).  The team boasted an excellent bullpen but mediocre starting pitching.  This year, the youngsters came into their own – Parker and Bell were traded away by the end of the year, and 7 of the 9 starters were 26 or younger.  Sabo’s emergence enabled the trade of Bell to Houston, and he would go on to edge Mark Grace out for Rookie of the Year honors.  In addition to Sabo and Larkin making the All-Star game, Davis and Daniels had seasons that were worthy of All-Star consideration.

The starting pitching was improved – Danny Jackson and Tom Browning formed a 1-2 punch that could go up against the Dodgers and the Mets as the best in the National League.  Jackson was truly dominant – if not for a historic season by Orel Hershiser, he would have likely won the Cy Young.  Jackson matched Hershiser’s 23-8 record and 15 shutouts, while posting an ERA of 2.73 with 6 shutouts.  Browning went 18-5 with 2 shutouts of his own – both of which were particularly notable.  Additionally, Jose Rijo, who had come over from Oakland in a trade from Parker, moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation in June and finished with season totals of 13-8 with a 2.39 ERA.

The bullpen was again formidable.  John Franco led the league with 39 saves and won the Rolaids Relief award, while rookie Rob Dibble struck out a batter per inning and had an ERA under 2.  Rob Murphy (2.59) and Frank Williams (3.08) were solid in middle relief.

As mentioned, Browning had 2 memorable outings during the year.  On June 6th, Browning took a no-hitter into the 9th of a 12-0 blowout against the Padres, before giving up a trademark single to left by Tony Gwynn with 1 out.  He’d come back to get that no-hitter and more on September 16th.  Pitching in Riverfront against the Dodgers, Browning threw 72 of his 102 pitches for strikes and never went to a 3-ball count in hurling the 12th perfect game in ML history.  It was the first (and still only) in Reds history.

Reds pitcher Ron Robinson also had a near miss – this one a near-perfect game.  I watched this game in its entirety in my parents’ upstairs attic on rabbit ears.  On May 2, Robinson retired the first 26 Montreal Expos.  However, he gave up a single when Wallace Johnson pinch-hit for pitcher Pascual Perez, and then Tim Raines immediately followed with a home run.  Robinson was relieved, and the Reds held on 3-2.

Team MVP & Best Pitcher: Danny Jackson (23-8/2.73/161, 15 CG, 6 SHO)

Award Winners:

Chris Sabo, Rookie of the Year

Barry Larkin, Silver Slugger

Eric Davis, Gold Glove

All-Stars:

Jackson

Larkin

Sabo





1988 baseball season in review

28 03 2011

Highlights and Events:

The offseason prior to 1988 saw some of the first tangible results from the collusion cases.  An arbitrator ruled against the owners on the Collusion 1 case, rewarding $10.5 million to the players and declaring seven free agents from the 1985-1986 off-season as “no-risk” free agents who had between the end of January until March 1 to sign with new teams even though they had a contract with their existing team.  Kirk Gibson was by far the most notable; like Andre Dawson had done the year before, he would become the National League MVP after signing with a new team.

However, the owners were still operating under some level of collusion – they were sharing contract offers in an “information bank”.  There still wasn’t significant free agency movement, and for the third offseason in a row, the MLBPA filed another grievance against the owners.  The most noteworthy move aside from Gibson was Jack Clark, who was coming off a 3rd-place MVP finish, who signed with the Yankees.

A few trades would have impacts on the next few fall classics – in addition to adding Gibson, the Dodgers sent Bob Welch to the A’s in a 3-team deal where they received Jesse Orosco.  The A’s also got Dave Parker from the Reds, giving up future WS MVP Jose Rijo in the deal.  The Cubs sent reliever Lee Smith to Boston, primarily in exchange for starter Calvin Schiraldi.

The Baltimore Orioles created a new record of futility to start the season.  The O’s lost 21 straight out of the gate, and the losses cost Cal Ripken Sr. his job at the helm.  Former Oriole great Frank Robinson was hired, but the firing did create some tension with star SS Cal Ripken Jr.

While guiding the Reds to another 2nd place finish, Pete Rose drummed up some controversy (though less than he would 1 year later) when he got into an argument with umpire David Pallone in an April 30th game against the Mets.  Rose pushed Pallone and set off a frenzy in Riverfront Stadium and a tirade by the Reds announcers.  Rose was suspended 30 games by then-NL President Bart Giamatti.  This was the largest suspension of a manager ever for an on-field incident, and set a stage for a bigger fight between Rose and Giamatti one year later.

The ’88 season saw a number of near-misses on no-hitters.  During Rose’s suspension, Reds pitcher Ron Robinson nearly hurled a perfect game.  On May 2, Robinson had retired the first 26 batters at home against the Expos.  He gave up a single to Wallace Johnson and Tim Raines immediately followed with a home run.  Robinson was relieved, and the Reds held on 3-2.  7 other games saw no-hitters broken up in the 9th inning:

  • Nolan Ryan – with 1 out in the 9th on 4/27 against the Phillies, by Mike Schmidt
  • Doug Drabek – on 5/8, Randy Ready of the Padres broke up the no-no to lead off the 9th
  • Odell Jones – on 5/28, Ron Washington of Cleveland ended the no-hitter with 1 out in the 9th
  • Tom Browning – Browning also nearly no-hit the Padres, giving up a hit to Tony Gwynn with 1 out in the 9th on 6/6
  • Mike Scott – by Ken Oberkfell of Atlanta ended his bid with 2 out in the 9th on 6/12
  • Dave Stieb – Stieb took both of his last 2 starts of 1988 hitless through 2-outs in the 9th.  He is the only pitcher to have this happen back-to-back, which is nearly as impressive as Johnny Vander Meer’s feat as the only pitcher with back-to-back no-hitters.

Browning would have redemption on September 16th, however.  At home in Riverfront Stadium against the Dodgers, he hurled the 12th perfect game in Major League history.  Browning threw 72 of his 102 pitches for strikes, never went to a 3-ball count, winning 1-0.  Browning (18-5) and Danny Jackson (23-8) formed the best pitching duo in the National League.

Jackson had a year that would have won the Cy Young almost any other year.  However, Orel Hershiser had a year, and particularly a finish, for the ages – he was, along with Jose Canseco, the biggest story in baseball.  Hershiser also went 23-8 with a 2.26 ERA.  After losing a game August 14th, Hershiser’s ERA went over 3 for the first time all year.  In the remaining 9 starts, Hershiser had the most incredible stretch by a pitcher in modern history.  He threw 8 complete games and 6 shut outs – the only game he didn’t finish was the finale that went 12 innings.  He did not give up a run in the month of September, throwing 5 straight shut outs and going into his final start needing another shutout to match Don Drysdale’s all-time record of 58 scoreless innings.  Hershiser and Andy Hawkins both held their opponents scoreless in regulation, and Hershiser shut down the Padres in the 10th to set the record.  His stretch run helped propel the Dodgers to the National League West crown.

Jose Canseco was the story in the junior circuit.  Canseco led all vote-getters in the All-Star game held at Riverfront, and had over 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases going into the break.  He’d continue on that pace – his 2 steals on September 23rd gave him the first 40-40 season in ML history.  Canseco led the league in HR, RBI and SLG, and the winning the MVP award and leading the Bash Brothers and Oakland to 104 wins and the AL West title.  Oakland also got a standout performance from Dennis Eckersley, whose career seemed like it was close to over only 2 years earlier.  The former All-Star starter saved 45 games and began a 5-year stretch where he was the most dominant closer baseball had ever seen.

The A’s beat out the Twins, who couldn’t defend their World Championship, but did win more games (91) than the year before, and were led by Frank Viola’s 24-7 Cy Young season.

Canseco didn’t participate in the home run derby – no one did.  For the only time, the event was canceled due to rain.  The All-Star game followed suit as a pitching duel – the 8th man in the lineup proved the difference for the AL, as Terry Steinbach of the A’s hit a homer and knocked in both runs to win the game’s MVP.

The Mets bounced back from a disappointing 1987 season to pace the NL with 100 wins.  They again had the best starting rotation in baseball – led by David Cone (20-3, 2.22 ERA), Dwight Gooden (18-9, started the All-Star game) and Ron Darling (17-9).  Darryl Strawberry was the MVP runner-up and led the league with 39 homers.

The Red Sox won the last division title, taking the AL East with only 89 wins.  Roger Clemens had another stellar season, going 18-12 and leading the league with 14 CG, 8 SHO and 291 K’s.  Mike Greenwell was runner-up to Canseco as the MVP, but Wade Boggs was the team’s best player.  Boggs hit .366 with a .476 OBP, winning his 5th batting title and becoming the first player in modern history with 6 consecutive 200-hit seasons (Wee Willie Keeler had 8 straight at the turn of the century, and Ichiro has 10 and counting).

Both Chicago ballparks were in the news.  In July, funding was passed to ensure the building of a new Comiskey Park on the South Side.  Further North, lights were turned on in Wrigley Field for the first time ever on August 8th.  As if the baseball Gods knew this was treacherous, the game was rained out.  The next night, the first game was played under the lights at Wrigley, and the lovable losers beat the Mets.

Baseball returned as a tournament to the Summer Olympics, again as a demonstration sport where the medals were not official.  Played in Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, 8 teams again competed in 2 “round robin” groupings.  The top 2 teams from each division made the semi-finals, and the same 2 countries made the final.  This time, however, the United States collegians extracted revenge on the Japanese, 5-3.  One-armed pitcher Jim Abbott (Michigan) was the winning pitcher in the final, and the U.S. team also included future All-Stars Robin Ventura (Oklahoma St.), Tino Martinez (Tampa), Andy Benes (Evansville), Charles Nagy (Connecticut), Ed Sprague (Stanford) and Mickey Morandini (Indiana).  Future MLB Rookie of the Year and All-Star starter Hideo Nomo pitched for the Japanese team.

Milestones reached in 1988 included:

  • Mike Schmidt continued his move up the HR list, passing Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx for 7th all-time.
  • Bruce Sutter became the 3rd pitcher to convert 300 saves, and would finish his career with that exact total.
  • Jeff Reardon saved 42 games for the Twins, becoming the first pitcher with 40-save seasons in both leagues.
  • Bob Boone and Carlton Fisk became the first backstops to catch regularly at the age of 40 – and together they took home the American League hardware at the position.  Fisk won the Silver Slugger award, while Boone won the Gold Glove in the Junior circuit.

Through 1987, Wade Boggs and Tim Raines were neck and neck for the title of best player in baseball.  Boggs had another great year and outdistanced himself from the field; I’d jump him over Raines in 1988.

Roger Clemens was still the best pitcher in the game, though Hershiser’s phenomenal season put him in the argument.  Frank Viola could also be considered with Hershiser, just behind Clemens.

In September, the pressure on Peter Ueberroth due to the collusion settlements had become too much.  Ueberroth agreed to step down as commissioner after the 1988 season, and would be replaced by NL President Bart Giamatti.  The playoffs started in 1988 with the knowledge that there would be new leadership the next year…

Read the rest of this entry »





Cards in the mail & card show weekend

27 03 2011

This past week I got 2 large packages in the mail and went to a card show in White Plains, NY.  The first package was a bunch of 1987 Topps from the Sandlot.  We’d traded previously, but this was an unsolicited surprise – and it knocked almost 150 cards from my ’87 wantlist.  I didn’t get many Turn Back the Clocks in the box I bought, so I got a bunch here – and I must say, this is the best TBC of any set.  Reggie going to the Yanks, Rickey breaking the steals record, Yaz getting the last triple crown ever are all great – but all pale in comparison to Roberto Clemente ending his career with exactly 3,000 hits before passing away on a charity trip to his home country.  Thanks Joe!

Next, I got a huge package from Baseball Cards Come to Life.  OK, funny story about what I thought the background of this blog.  The http address for this web is “borosny” at blogger.  I just figured this was a New York thing – you know “the 5 boroughs” of “NY”.  But, in actuality, the blog is run by “Bo Rosny”.  Anyways, it seemed funny to me at least that I didn’t get that (I guess you had to be there).  This package had tons of cards from each set that I still need – literally over 200 cards that I needed!  First up is some 88 cards.  I’ve mentioned it before, but this set is awesome.  You can tell from the cards here; the pictures from this set just tend to be very crisp, solid shots.

Next up is some ’85 Topps, Bo sent me a bunch of these.

After that, some ’83 and ’84 Topps cards.  One thing I’ve learned in this project – Andre Dawson cards have a 90% chance of being awesome!

Finally, here’s some ’81 and ’82 Topps.  I didn’t realize J.R. Richard had a card this late – this was definitely after he had a stroke, and it’s a pretty cool looking card.  It’s too bad he wasn’t able to come back from the stroke, it would have been great for the mid-80’s Astros to have him, Nolan Ryan, and Mike Scott striking out everyone in sight.

Bo’s cards essentially finished my ’81 Topps set, but I’ve got a few more cards to get just because I want a little better condition. I sent Bo a boatload of Upper Deck cards – this was definitely the biggest trade I’ve had so far as volume goes.  So thanks Bo!

Next up – I went to the White Plains card show yesterday.  The overall impression I had wasn’t that great.  I guess I’m probably not the prime card-show goer right now because I’m mostly looking for commons from these sets, and there just wasn’t anything like that.  I was hoping someone would have a bunch of commons boxes to go through.  One guy did have some recent stuff, but he had everything marked at 40 cents a card.  Like I’m going to pay 40 cents for a common 2010 Upper Deck!  I did get some inserts from the last 2 years of Topps for a quarter each, which was a good deal.  And I got some supplies.  Here’s the highlights of those:

Finally, here’s the best purchase I got from the card show.  This was being sold by one of the dealer’s daughters; if you’ve ever had the Samoa girl scout cookies – they’re AMAZING!!!





2011 Heritage box

26 03 2011

I went outside of my purpose for this blog and bought a box of Heritage.  When I eventually finish my stated objective, I’ll probably collect some retro sets.  Going through those may be the next thing I do with this blog.  Plus, for this set, I’ve always really liked the 1962 Topps set.  I remember when I was young going to a card show with my dad and getting an autograph on a 1962 Topps card of Whitey Ford.  It  was my favorite card for a long time (though now I have no idea where it is!).  Anyways, I really like the look of these cards.  I’ve seen many scans the blogosphere, but here’s my contribution.

I’ll start off with the base cards – a few of my favorite cards and then some of the subsets.  I love the Chapman, and the star is a throwback to the rookie designation from the 1962 set.  The Cliff Lee is my favorite picture from this set – I wonder what he’s thinking?  I’ve seen the Brian Wilson card in many scans, but its worth noting that it was the last card of the entire box.  gives a good example.  I like the Fukudome card – it’s got the pink bat from Mother’s Day, which is a nice touch.  Topps added the really large All-Star Rookie team trophy, just like the ’62 set.  The subsets are the Sporting News All-Stars, Leaders, World and a couple highlight cards.  I love the Ichiro card – what he’s done is amazing.  If you think about the 2 big Rookies from 2001 – Ichiro and Albert Pujols.  Ichiro is the only player with 10 straight 200 hit seasons (the modern record was Boggs with 7 and the record before Ichiro was Willie Keeler with 8), he’ll retire with 3,000 hits even though he started at age 27.  And Pujols has never hit less than 30 homers, never had less than 100 RBI, never hit less than .310, had one season below .400 OBP (.394), had one season below 100 R (99).

One thing I didn’t include was the Babe Ruth subsets, but I’ll have to pass for now.  Next, I’ll show the high numbers.  Glad to have picked up the Wright – there is also a gimmick version of this card that says “Cincinnati Reds” as his team name.  It’s homage to a mistake for that card # in the ’62 set, when Don Zimmer was listed as a Red but pictured in a Mets uni.

Next up, here are the inserts. I can’t really decide on these guys; they’re kind of so-so.  I like the Then & Now – it seems like it’s one they’ve done in past years.  The others just seem like they’re no different from the subsets.  Actually, I like the subsets better because they match up with the original set.

Finally, here are the “hits” or “mojo” or whatever you prefer from this set.  I got 2 chrome cards, which is what the odds would predict.  Getting a Mattingly is pretty cool – I scanned the regular next to it for comparison.  The Josh Johnson jersey isn’t anything special.  But I will say this – this set goes great with jerseys and auto cards.  The wood border just seems to work with it.  I also got a Stamps card, which means I beat the odds.  This is supposedly tribute to a test Topps had done in ’62, and it’s numbered to 62.  Let me just say – I really like these cards!  It looks really cool in person.  Finally, I got 2 box-toppers.  First is a “bucks” thing – I don’t know if I can call this a card?  Next is a buyback card of the ’62 set with a 50th anniversary stamp on there.  Not great condition, but OK.  This reminds me of what Upper Deck did in ’09 with the ’89 set, I don’t know if I like it because it’s not collectible as a set or anything.  At least I got a Red – so I’ll keep it!





Blogger Fantasy draft team – in Cards

24 03 2011

I added a 3rd fantasy baseball league this year by joining a league with fellow bloggers, Adam from Thoughts and Sox is the commish.   I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I did great in this draft, I kept just barely missing out on guys I wanted.  We’ll see how it goes, I think my team is still decent.  Here’s the lineup – using 2011 Topps (or 2010 where guys weren’t in Series 1). I also included my first bench player – that will be either Aubrey Huff or Brett Gardner (depending on who out of them will be my 3rd outfielder).

Next, here’s my 5 starters and first reliever.  I went with no closers – I’m going with trying to win the hold stat and just give up the save stat!    “DON’T OVERPAY FOR SAVES!!!!”





1988 Topps Traded

22 03 2011

Topps issued a 132-card “Traded” set in factory form 1988 in the same format as previous years; cards were numbered in alphabetical order, separately from the base set with a “T” suffix as #1-132.  The set contains XRC’s of players who didn’t have a card in the base set, players who signed with or were traded to new teams, new managers, and members of the 1988 US Olympic team.  The design is the same as the base set, and the cards were again printed in Ireland on white cardstock.  I love the Ireland card stock from these sets – but for this set in particular, a lot of the cards are poorly cut on the edges.

Dealers who ordered cases of the Topps Traded set again received a miniature Bronze Card. For the third year in a row, this bronze replica was of a historic Topps card.  They’d done two of the great 50’s centerfielders from New York – so this time they naturally did Duke Snider’s 1955 Topps card. Topps also again issued a limited Tiffany set that had a glossy picture on the front.

There are no Big Red Machine players in this set and all were significant to that team.  There are 4 members of the 1990 Reds World Champion team in the set. Most notably is the RC for Chris Sabo, who won the Rookie of the Year award in 1988 and made the All-Star game in Cincinnati.  Danny Jackson was just as important to the Reds 1990 success – and in 1988, he had a year that would have won a Cy Young most seasons (23-8, 15 CG).  Unfortunately, Orel Hershiser had a truly historic season.  Jose Rijo was the Reds best pitcher in the early 90’s, and won the WS MVP against the team we traded for him (the A’s).  Jack Armstrong, who started the 1990 All-Star game, also had his RC in this set.

There are three Hall of Famers in the set – the Roberto Alomar RC is definitely the most notable card of this set:

  • Alomar now has the most recent First Topps Card of any Hall of Famer – taking that distinction over by 3 years from Kirby Puckett.
  • Goose Gossage had been traded by the Padres to the Cubs in February of 1988 for Mike Brumley and Keith Moreland.
  • Frank Robinson returned to the city where he won the triple crown, taking over for Cal Ripken Sr. 6 games into the 1988 season. He would go on to win AL Manager of the Year the next year.

Topps had included players from the ’84 Olympic team in its 1985 set, so this was the first time USA cards were presented in the Traded set.  This enabled them to get the USA cards into the set a year earlier.  There isn’t a card anywhere close to the magnitude of McGwire. However, there are a number of guys who had good careers from this sub-group, particularly Tino Martinez, Robin Ventura and Jim Abbott (go Blue).

There was more offseason movement in 1988 than in previous years, and free agent Kirk Gibson would go on to sign a lucrative deal with the Dodgers.  He’d win the MVP in 1988 and hit one of the most famous home runs in World Series history – a game winner of Dennis Eckersley in game 1.  Dave Parker was a big part of the A’s 1989 World Series championship – though the A’s gave up Rijo for the Cobra in the trade mentioned above.  Clark signed with the Yankees and had a good season, though he was soon traded to the Padres.  Welch would win the Cy Young for the A’s in 1990; his 27 wins that year are the closest anyone has got to 30 since Denny McLain in 1968.

The Alomar rookie and the Ventura/Abbott/Martinez from the USA set are the key rookies, but there are some others. I showed the Sabo rookie, but Mark Grace was the RoY runner-up and had the most hits of any player in the 1990’s.  Walt Weiss was the AL Rookie of the Year.  Brady Anderson is 1 of 2 player to have a 50-HR and 50-SB season.  Jack McDowell is a future Cy Young winner.  Ron Gant was a future 30-30 guy who would win comeback player of the year, and David Wells is probably the most successful player outside of Alomar (and maybe Grace) – he won 239 games, pitched a perfect game, and pitched on an astounding 11 different playoff teams (winning 3 World Series rings).